Pharmacists Empowered at Supermarket Chains
Ms. Sax is a freelance writer based in Chevy Chase, Maryland
Chain and independentpharmacies are not theonly community pharmacyoptions open to pharmacists.Increasingly, supermarketpharmacies are offering more patientservices and are becoming indispensablepharmacy resources for theirpatients. They also have become avery attractive practice setting forpharmacists.
?Today?s consumers are looking foranswers to help them self-manage theirhealth, and supermarkets have recognizedthat a pharmacy within thestore uniquely positions them to meetthis customer demand,? said CathyPolley, vice president of pharmacy servicesat the Food Marketing Institute(FMI), a supermarket trade organization.?Our members believe that thereis significant value in leveraging foodand pharmacy within the store, and itis rare that a supermarket opens todaywithout a pharmacy.?
Polley said that 71% of today?spharmacies dispense prescriptions, upfrom 51% 10 years ago. ?Supermarketpharmacies now fill 14% of all retailprescriptions and account for morethan 9% of total store sales. Thisstrong performance demonstrates thatpharmacies are strategically essentialto food retailers,? she said.
A recent FMI study found thatsupermarket pharmacies offer agrowing array of health and wellnessservices, often working closely withother health care specialists, suchas dietitians and nurse practitioners.Nearly half of all food retailerssurveyed in the FMI study providehealth seminars and disease managementprograms. Nearly 40%, forexample, offer walk-in clinics.
?Supermarket pharmacies offermany professional services to enhancethe shopping experience for theirconsumers who are trying to livehealthier lifestyles,? said Polley. ?Oursupermarket Pharmacy Trends 2008survey reports that more than 80%of supermarket pharmacies are offeringor planning to offer medicationtherapy management [MTM] services.?The survey found that diabetes,hypertension, heart disease, andhigh cholesterol are the most commonlyaddressed medical conditionsin supermarket MTM programs.
SUPERVALU Pharmacists Offer Valuable Patient Services
At Franklin Park, Illinois?basedSUPERVALU Pharmacies, pharmacistsperform a variety of in-storeclinical services that include immunizations,MTM, and diabetes careservices. ?With today?s rising rates ofdiabetes, obesity, and related healthconditions, we are further expandingour pharmacy services to betteraddress these growing public healthconcerns,? said Nikki Price, RPh,director of pharmacy education atSUPERVALU Pharmacies.
Supermarket pharmacists also areproviding other patient-related services.?With the complex pharmaceuticalson the market today, pharmacistsare well-positioned to helppatients use their medications safelyand effectively. In addition to MTMservices, supermarkets offer immunizations,health seminars, store tours,health-focused shelf tags, and in-storeclinics,? said Polley. ?Many of ourmembers are involved in innovativepractice models that involve partnershipswith colleges of pharmacy andretail clinic operators.?
Supermarkets also are uniquelypositioned to focus on nutritionrelatedhealth programs. Of the supermarketchains, 32.7% offer nutritioncounseling, and 30.8% offer healthrelatedrecipes.
?Our location in a supermarketenvironment puts us in a great positionto reach large segments of thepopulation across the country andmake a significant impact,? saidSUPERVALU?s Price. ?We believethat by teaching our patients andstore customers how to make wisefood and pharmacy choices, ourpharmacists can help them stay healthy or manage any health conditionsthey have.?
SUPERVALU?s Eating HealthyWith Diabetes program gives thechain?s Diabetes Care pharmacistsopportunities to talk with theirpatients about diabetes in a way thatis instructional and easy to understand.?In addition to providingguidance on the best ways to managetheir medications and properlyuse their blood glucose meters, ourDiabetes Care Pharmacists team upwith registered dietitians to conducteducational store tours,? said Price.?These store tours focus on foodlabel reading and education on thebasis of making healthy choices formeals and snacks, as well as understandingall pharmacy solutions tomaximize health.?
Ahold Features Whole Health Approach
Ahold USA, which operates Giant,Stop & Shop, and TOPS supermarket/pharmacies, also is adopting a?whole health? approach that integratespharmacy and food.
?The ability for a pharmacist towork side by side with an in-storenutritionist or dietitian demonstrateshow uniquely positioned supermarketswith pharmacies are to helpconsumers appropriately blend theirfood, nutrition, and medicationneeds,? said FMI?s Polley. ?A pharmacistworking in a supermarket hasthe opportunity to help their patientssort through health and nutritioninformation so they can makeinformed food choices that complementtheir prescribed medications.As a pharmacist myself, I cannotthink of a better practice setting fortoday?s pharmacists. Supermarketpharmacists care about their patients?health in every aisle of the store, notjust at the pharmacy counter.?
Hy-Vee Pharmacists Make Patient-oriented Decisions
Undoubtedly, supermarkets are puttingmore emphasis on their pharmaciesand on the whole-health approachthat is essential to a strong pharmacypresence. Hy-Vee, a Des Moines,Iowa?based chain, has increased itsfocus on pharmacy and has givenits 500 pharmacists the freedom andautonomy to make decisions thataffect their own pharmacies, so thechain can continue to provide ?professional,people-oriented care? to itspatients.
A&P Longevity Due to Empowering Pharmacists
A&P, an established company thatretains a dynamic culture, is anotherexample of a supermarket chain thatis focused on strong pharmacy services.The 20th largest drug chain inthe nation and the fifth largest in thenortheastern United States, A&P iscelebrating its 150th year in businesswhile continuing to grow. With itsrecent acquisition of Pathmark stores,A&P became the leading food retailerin the northeastern United States,holding a number-1 market share inthe country?s largest consumer market.The company?s corporate cultureis creative and inviting?an environmentthat makes it an attractive placefor pharmacists to work.
?Our stores serve as little neighborhoods,?said a company spokesperson.?Many of our pharmacy customersare shoppers who frequentthe store and often drop by the pharmacywith questions. It is very mucha community environment.?At A&P, pharmacists oversee allaspects involved in running the dayto-day operations of the pharmacy.Pharmacists develop, implement, anddeliver high-quality pharmaceuticalservices while maintaining high standardsof pharmaceutical care. Staffpharmacists ensure that all prescriptionsare prepared and dispensed incompliance with company policy,pharmacy procedure, and state andfederal laws. They also develop andexecute in-store and local merchandisingprograms and promote thepharmacy business overall.
Disease management and patientcounseling are key areas for A&Ppharmacists. ?Many of our pharmacistsare involved in [MTM], whichenables them to spend time withpatients. We also encourage themto partner with community healthscreenings, health fairs, and otherevents,? said Carol DiNicolantonio,senior director of pharmacy at A&P.?We enable our pharmacists to presentand implement ideas on stateof-the-art pharmaceutical practicesregularly. We actually have a team ofclinical pharmacists who meet to discussbest practices on a regular basisand who share their ideas with othersthroughout the organization.?
A&P staff pharmacists have anumber of opportunities for careergrowth on 2 career paths. Some pharmacistschoose to become pharmacymanagers and then progress to districtmanager and other managementpositions, while others opt for a clinicalpharmacist position and progressthrough that channel.
In summary, supermarket pharmacieshave a lot to offer?not only dothey provide convenience for patientsto complete their pharmacy needswhile they are grocery shopping,but this provides an ideal point forpharmacists to become involved intheir patients? health care and effectpatient outcomes. Many supermarketsempower their pharmacists indelivering high-quality health care bygiving them decision-making capabilitiesin the day-to-day operationsof the pharmacy.